Written by Suzan Ahmed
Our minds are highly skilled at planning, anticipating, and engaging in catastrophic scenarios. The basic idea is that, by imagining what could happen, we can handle it when/if it happens.
The problem is that, with repetition and focus, we essentially reinforce limiting thoughts and beliefs—even if, and especially when—we intensely worry, prepare for, and fear they will manifest themselves in our lives.
Being prepared is a natural approach to uncertainty and has helped our species survive and move forward in our evolution.
I have often heard clients express concern that focusing on positive outcomes or feelings will make them less prepared for crises. And, believe me, I have caught myself countless times going down the rabbit hole of “what-if’s.”
But focusing on the potential or real adverse outcomes incessantly does not necessarily make us better equipped for the worst. In fact, it likely creates more of the same feelings, thoughts, and results we don’t want to experience. Our minds and bodies then suffer.
We will never be able to “turn off” our thoughts completely, and this is a common misconception around cultivating meditation or mindfulness practices.
Instead of attempting to shut our limiting beliefs down, we can creatively make space for NEW beliefs.
It is much more effective and way easier to crowd out limiting beliefs (as well as habits and attitudes you want to shift) with liberating or expansive beliefs, rather than forcing yourself to not think negative thoughts.
One of the best and easiest ways to do this is to begin a practice of creating and focusing on affirmations that feel uplifting and supportive.
Often, it is as simple as writing the OPPOSITE of the fearful or limiting thought/belief.
So, if you notice the thought, “I am afraid of the unknown,” replace it with, “I love exploring the unknown,” “The unknown is where I find space for creativity,” or anything that feels authentic to you.
~ I don’t have enough money → I am abundant, I have everything I need
~ I am alone → I have all of the support in the Universe, I am supported fully
Think of each limiting thought or belief as a mirror reflecting back to you the OPPOSITE of what is actually true (liberating beliefs).
Repeatedly reading and writing affirmations, coupled with deeply feeling them in your body, and then *BELIEVING* them (or moving towards believing them as possibly true) begins to rewire neural pathways in your brain.
You also put out an energetic frequency that pulls more of the same energy back into your experience.
Just as your limiting beliefs and thoughts have been reinforced by repeated attention, you can reinforce the beliefs and feelings you WANT to experience. With practice, it becomes increasingly automatic (just like the negative, critical thoughts that feel automatic to you right now).
Getting started with this practice is simple:
Write an affirmation you want to remember to embody, in your journal, on your bathroom mirror, on your vision board, on sticky notes, on your fridge, anywhere you are likely to see them (ideally multiple times a day).
Making space for small steps, like inserting affirmations into your daily life, builds momentum, and starts to reshape your reality. Even if limiting thoughts creep up, they will begin to neutralize and feel more distant.
As a bonus exercise to embody this practice, you might notice how you feel when you read a limiting thought/belief, compared to when you read a liberating one. Do you notice restrictions? Relief?
Learn how your body responds to life-supportive versus life-shrinking statements. This is the beginning of developing an intuitive relationship with your body, your spirit, and your Truth.
About the author: Suzan (sounds like Suzanne) Ahmed (she/her), Ph.D., CIHC, is a clinical + design psychologist, intuitive healer, and integrative wellness coach. Suzan identifies as a cis-het woman with Sudanese, Egyptian, Ethiopian, and Filipino heritage. She specializes in conscious wellbeing and design, supporting others, especially WOC, to make space inside + out, so they can be their authentic, highest selves. To learn more about her coaching + design consulting work, visit www.makingspacetobe.com or @makingspacetobe
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